4 Ways To Improve Storytelling When Building Your Brand

Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to appeal to audiences.

It is a method used to not only share the story of who you are, what you do, and what you want to accomplish with the public, but also a way to form a personal relationship with your audience, and create an engaging and approachable platform for you and your brand.

business storytelling

I recently noticed a Facebook video created by Catherine Howell. Catherine achieved over 10,000 views on a Facebook video in which she executed this simple storytelling technique—be candid and sincere. This allows your audience and clients to feel personally connected to who you are, encouraging trust and the desire to work with you in the future.

Catherine Howell is the Founder and CEO of Eight Loop Social, and the Facebook Ads Academy. I reached out and asked her to share some insights on how to improve digital storytelling.

From her experience, Catherine recommends 4 things whilst storytelling to enhance your brand.

1) Know Who Your Audience is and What You Want to Achieve

Before creating content, the first step is to get a solid grasp of WHO your audience is. Once you have this, you can begin to break your audience down into the various personas that make it up.

Unfortunately, most brands don’t even go down this far into their audience mapping and—as a consequence—content is too generalized and broad. Therefore, it can be difficult to create relatable content.

Catherine explains, “Once you have your personas, what you would normally do is to map out pillars of communication that are required to help the brand achieve whatever outcome is required—awareness, consideration, purchase, and loyalty. If the aim is to build awareness and consideration for a new product – the pillars may include things like sharing reviews—consideration, introducing solutions to problems—awareness, and sharing experiences provided by the product’s community—social proof/consideration”.

2) Be Specific.

By underpinning videos with specific micro-moments and experiences, brands can cut through…

Marketing Day: Designing mobile-first content, SEO for SaaS & Facebook’s video chat

Here’s our recap of what happened in online marketing today, as reported on Marketing Land and other places across the web.

From Marketing Land:

3 ways to use search query data from Google Search Console

In my last column, I covered how you can use Google’s Search Console to learn about the health of your website.

Search Console has another helpful report, called Search Analytics, which gives you an overview of how your website is performing in Google’s organic (non-paid) search results — namely, it shows some of the search queries people used to click through to your website.

In this column, I’ll explain how to read the report. I’ll also share a few simple strategies on how small business owners can use it to improve a website’s non-paid Google search results and website marketing in general.

How to read the Search Analytics report

To access the report, log into Search Console, and then click “Search Traffic” in the left-hand navigation. Search Analytics is the first report listed within this menu option. If you’re not able to access Search Console, it may be because you have to verify your website first.

The Search Analytics report enables you to see search data from various perspectives. As you can see in Figure 1, you can filter by Queries, Pages, Countries, Devices and Search Type (Web, Image or Video). Within each of these, you can filter more granularly: Click the radio button for Devices, for example, and you can filter by Desktop, Mobile or Tablet.

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Figure 1: Search Analytics report filters

You can also customize the date range. Unlike Google Analytics, which archives data for years, Search Console only shows the last 90 days of search query data.

At the top of the report, you can check four boxes: Clicks, Impressions, CTR and Position. Once you check these, the data then appears in the rows below. (Figure 2).

search analytics report
Figure 2: Search Analytics report showing Clicks, Impressions and more.

Search Console data differs from what you see in Google Analytics, and if you’re a new user, it can be a little confusing, as the terms aren’t the same. In Google Analytics, for example, visits to a website are called “Sessions” — and one person can have multiple sessions.

Analytics also shows Sessions data by Channel, meaning the source of the searcher: Organic (non-paid search, including non-Google properties), Paid, Referrals, Direct and Social.

Search Console, on the other hand, provides click data, which refers only to the people who clicked through from the Google search engine to your website.

What I like about Search Console is that it lets you see the actual search queries people used when clicking through to a website. Before you get too excited, however, you should note that Google gives you only a small percentage of these queries — and the way it presents this data can be a little confusing at first.

If you use AdWords, the terms Clicks, Impressions, CTR and Position should look familiar to you, but if you don’t, here’s what they mean:

Clicks

This is the number of clicks to your website per search query. Caution: Google does not provide search query data for each of the clicks to your website for the selected time range.

In Figure 2 (above), you can see that this particular website had 177 clicks for the last 28 days. The actual search query data, however, only shows 49 of those clicks (i.e., 28%).

Impressions

This is the number of times your website listing appeared in the Google search results for various searches. In Figure 2 (above), you can see Search Console shows 12,061 impressions. Caution: Google counts impressions any time your website…

UberMedia buys Cintric to blend first and third party data for ‘always-on’ location

A few years ago most marketers didn’t know how to use location; it was about “geofencing,” Starbucks and mobile coupons. Today they literally can’t get enough of it.

Brands, retailers and agencies have discovered the versatility and utility of location data — for audience targeting, attribution and competitive insights — and are increasingly hungry for “always-on” mobile location. However always-on location is not easy to get.

It typically requires a first party relationship or data supplied via a first party relationship (i.e., an app with location enabled). Most companies working with location data access it through the exchange bidstream. That data is generally full of inaccuracy and even…

5 tools, tips and hacks to maximize your SEO output

This article was co-authored by my colleague at Go Fish Digital, Chris Long.

Part of being an effective SEO is being incredibly efficient with the tasks at hand. You just aren’t going to have the time needed to go deeper and continue to add value if you’re spinning your wheels doing manual, repetitive tasks.

Because of this, we have always valued things that can make you more efficient: tools, scripts, automation, and even interns!

Today, we dig deep into our toolbox to pull out five of our favorite ways to maximize your SEO productivity output.

1. Automate Google Analytics data extracts & reporting

Generating monthly reports is one of those repetitive tasks that can consume a day or more at the beginning of the month (especially in the agency world!).

If you’re manually pulling data from Google Analytics, you need to be constantly checking that your date ranges are correct, that you’ve applied the proper segments, that you’re analyzing the right metrics, and that you’ve accessed the primary profile in the first place. Not only would automating this type of reporting save time, but it would also ensure consistency and eliminate mistakes.

And while scheduling reports in Analytics is fine, reporting can really be taken to the next level with the Google Analytics Add-On for Sheets. This add-on is a lifesaver for us during reporting time!

By adding this to Google Sheets, you can pull data directly from the Google Analytics API without ever having to log into the Analytics interface. To start, you’ll need to configure which metrics, date ranges, segments and profile the API should be pulling. Next, you simply run the report; the data is then loaded into your spreadsheet automagically.

The beauty of this whole system is that once you have set up your reporting framework, the amount of time spent gathering Google Analytics data each month should be drastically reduced.

For most of my reports, all I do is adjust the date ranges at the beginning of each month, and I let the API apply all my segments and collect only the metrics I need. I also create charts in the same spreadsheet that reference the cells this data gets pulled into.

With some very minor changes to the spreadsheet each month, I’m able to pull all of the data I need and have it formatted into easy-to-read charts.

This little add-on easily saves me about a day’s worth of work every single month.

2. Find…

How to Explain Content Marketing to Anyone

how-explain-content-marketing-anyone

The concept of content marketing has been around for hundreds of years (see this example from 1672), and the discipline has gained incredible popularity since 2007, according to Google Trends.

Google-Trends-Content-Marketing

But, when we recently launched a new e-book that answers common content marketing questions, we learned that many of our readers are just getting started. As such, we want to make sure we continually cover the basics. Whether you are new to the practice, need a new way to look at what you’ve been doing, or need help explaining this to your relatives, this post is for you.

Content marketing as your family would understand

When people ask what you do, does your response receive a quizzical look? “So, what is it exactly that you do,” they ask after you explain your job.

My husband was in this camp until he told me about a newsletter that covers trends affecting financial markets. He looks forward to receiving it each day. He explained that the newsletters didn’t have anything to do with the funds the broker was selling, but the information was solid and valuable – and it was useful research for the investments he makes.

“That’s content marketing,” I explained. It was an aha moment for my husband’s understanding of content marketing – content marketing is educational but is not about the products the company sells. The vendor offers such good information that you become loyal to the brand.

I can share another example that is close to my daughter’s heart. American Girl uses content to transform something that is a commodity – a doll.

American Girl has so much content – and so many content experiences – for its audience, that it’s truly staggering. For instance, it offers:

While all the ways American Girl connects to its audience are too numerous to cover in this one post, I’m particularly amazed by its print publications. For instance, The Care and Keeping of You is a book all about growing up for girls. It ranks second in its category (and 76th most popular among all books on Amazon.) It’s from a brand selling dolls – but the subject has nothing to do with the dolls.

product-details-american-girl-book

American Girl Magazine is a top seller in several categories.

product-details-american-girl-magazine

In short, American Girl’s content marketing focuses on how a child can interact with the doll or things that are important to this demographic.

For parents, think about BabyCenter. When I was pregnant and then raising my older daughter, I considered BabyCenter to be required reading. It’s a perfect example of content marketing. According to its website, it is the No. 1 pregnancy and parenting digital destination, and eight in 10 new and expectant moms online use BabyCenter each month. The site is owned by Johnson & Johnson, which sells products for babies.

Content marketing explained to marketers

Hopefully, those examples make it clear that content marketing isn’t about the brand, your products, or your services. It’s about your audience. What do they care about?

And, more importantly, how can you be the one to provide something no one else is, which in turn elevates your brand from a commodity to something people embrace?

Content marketing is different than traditional product marketing efforts like sales collateral and other product-specific info. Content marketing…

Marketing Day: SnapChat ads, SEO projects & Evidon

Here’s our recap of what happened in online marketing today, as reported on Marketing Land and other places across the web.

From Marketing Land:

P&G Slashes Digital Ads by $140M Over Brand Safety. Sales Rise Anyway

Credit: Courtesy Procter & Gamble/Business Wire

Procter & Gamble‘s concerns about where its ads were showing up online contributed to a $140 million cutback in the company’s digital ad spending last quarter, the company said Thursday. That helped the world’s biggest advertiser beat earnings expectations. Perhaps even more noteworthy, however, organic sales outperformed both analyst forecasts and key rivals at 2% growth despite the drop in ad support.

P&G didn’t call out YouTube, the subject of many marketers’ ire earlier this year, in its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings release, but did say digital ad spending fell because of choices to “temporarily restrict spending in digital forums where our ads were not being placed according to our standards and specifications.”

Those cuts amounted to nearly a percentage point of profit margin for the quarter, with cuts to agency and production fees further boosting profits.

People familiar with the matter said P&G left YouTube in March over brand-safety issues, though P&G has also had problems with ads appearing on video content that didn’t match its goals. It’s unclear whether or to what extent the digital cuts came from other venues, though Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller in a media call also noted Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard’s broader efforts to eliminate “a significant amount of waste” in the digital media supply chain.

YouTube parent Google reported strong revenue growth last quarter despite what appears to be a dwindling advertiser brand-safety revolt. But P&G isn’t in a hurry to resume spending either. Despite the cuts P&G had “very strong relative organic sales growth,” Moeller said. “So we stand in pretty good net as a result of all those choices.”

Asked whether P&G sees any need to put that…

Should You Trust Artificial Intelligence to Drive Your Content Marketing?

artificial-intelligence-drive-content-marketing

Before breakfast, I check my Facebook and LinkedIn newsfeeds for a quick synopsis of the day. As I jump in the shower, I hit “download” on a recommended movie on Netflix, knowing I have a long flight this evening. While wolfing down my cereal, I click once to buy a gift for a friend’s birthday next week. My iPhone pings to tell me that I need to leave now if I want to make that early meeting 54 miles away. And as I get in my car, I use voice activation to play my favorite Spotify playlist, and Apple Maps informs me it will take five minutes to drive to the train station this morning.

With real examples of demonstrable value in the market, we can no longer sarcastically joke that AI means “almost implemented.”

We are all being conditioned to rely on technology in our daily lives, not just for communication, but also for decision-making. This ever-deepening interface with technology is rewiring our brains to process information differently, as Nicholas Carr writes in The Shallows. It is the same with our customers.

Popular consumer apps have led to the unconscious mass adoption of advanced, predictive technology. And yet … while we are increasingly outsourcing our cognitive processes to myriad consumer apps and tools, the enterprise is only now waking up to this new level of customer expectation. This lopsided adoption is most clear when we consider that we now trust a car’s built-in collision-avoidance system to protect our lives, yet still question whether a machine can recommend what to write next in a marketing program or which customer should receive a new product offer.

We trust artificial intelligence to drive our cars safely but not to recommend marketing strategy.

Inconvenient truth

Over the past 10 years, marketing automation has grown into a billion-dollar industry by promising to bring personalization and efficiency to marketing programs. The siren call of automated lead nurturing, lead scoring, and triggered responses to critical prospect activities has proved irresistible to B2B organizations: There were nearly 11 times more companies with marketing automation in 2014 than there were in early 2011 (SiriusDecisions), and 60% of companies turning over at least $500 million adopted marketing automation by 2014 (Raab Associates).

However, the inconvenient truth about first-generation marketing automation is that it is not really automated. It is a fantastic central workflow tool that can achieve scale, but it requires resource to set up, integrate, manage, and optimize. Indeed, in many B2B organizations, the phrase “feed the beast” has been accepted into marketing parlance as a way of describing the resource demands of marketing automation. Most fundamentally, there is the issue of rule creep. As you set up campaigns, you define business rules: “If A happens, then do B” or “If the individual has this characteristic, then put them in segment 4.” These can be simple to start with, but are always an inadequate reduction of complex and varied buyer journeys. So, you add more rules to make the campaign more targeted. And every time you measure results, the outcome is that more rules need to be written. Some of our enterprise clients estimate that they spend $500,000 per year on these manual elements of marketing automation – and that is disregarding the vital and significant investment in ongoing content creation.

While marketing automation promises the world, what it actually does is automate the execution of content marketing, while decision-making remains an impractically manual effort. It offers marketers a strong workflow and even insights, but fails to provide an automated way to act on those insights at scale. Fundamentally, the content in those systems is dumb; the system doesn’t understand what the content is about and who should read it. To track those looking at how to address this, Forrester recently started a new research theme it calls “content intelligence,” which it defines as “the use of artificial intelligence technologies to understand and capture the qualities inherent in any content.” As the marketing technology analyst David Raab says, “Something has to give: Either marketers stop trying to make the best decisions or they stop relying on rules.”

Expectation gap

In the face of relentlessly rising customer expectations, leading marketers are investing in AI-based tools – a category that encompasses everything from personalization tools that “learn” from individuals’ online behavior to recommend content more effectively, to tools that can detect minute patterns across massive consumer data sets and predict future behavior. These are some of the most interesting on the increasing list of potential applications for AI in marketing:

  • Content strategy – recommending what content to create next
  • Campaign strategy – recommending what sequence of communications to deliver
  • Personalization – recommending the right content for each customer based on behavior
  • Segmentation – clustering customers based on behavior or intent
  • Copy automation – automatically generating subject lines and descriptions
  • Lead or account prioritization – ranking leads or accounts by their likelihood to close
  • Sales strategy – recommending the right product/service offering and content to use in sales
  • Sales intent – predicting the right product offering, deal size, and close date
  • Retargeting – recommending the right content within retargeted ad units

Since the major marketing suites have yet to fully deploy or productize their AI offerings, adopting AI usually requires a blend of point solutions and…

Cannes Lions Interview: Ben Barokas, Co-Founder And CEO, Sourcepoint

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Ben Barokis, Founder and CEO, Sourcepoint
Ben Barokis, Founder and CEO, Sourcepoint

On the occasion of the 2017 Cannes Lions, I spoke with serial entrepreneur Ben Barokas about the state of digital publishing and his journey to founding Sourcepoint.

“The reason I started Sourcepoint, and why I’m so focused on the publisher, is that I believe that there needs to be additional transparency. If the user wants to pay for content by consuming advertising and providing data, or if the user wants to be able to pay directly for that content in a micro–transaction, the user should be able to do that. And we should make it as frictionless as possible in order to make that happen,” says Sourcepoint Co-Founder and CEO, Ben Barokas.

His company Sourcepoint provides the software, tools, and data to enable digital publishers to monetize their audiences through a variety of content compensation (payment or free) options. Founded in 2015, the New York City based company works with publishers such as AOL, Advanced Digital, Dennis, and Gruner and Jahr, to help them deal with what the firm refers to as “existential” threats from ad-blockers, ad fraud, and the struggle many, if not most, publishers face in adequately monetizing their content. The firm is backed by $26 million in venture funding from Accel, Foundry Group, Greycroft Partners, Northzone, and Spark Capital.

“This all started with AOL. I trafficked lots and lots of banners.” Says Barokas, who began a career in the digital advertising business as an ad trafficker for the pioneering online service 17 years ago. He eventually worked his way up to running the ad inventory management team and was responsible for ad product development up through to the merger and integration with Time Warner, and later what he termed the “disintegration” of the company.

“AOL Time Warner provided me with such incredible experience on what it takes to run a business like that at scale. While running advertising products, I had a number of interactions with Brian Adams, who later became my co–founder of my previous business, Admeld,” says Barokas.

He would leave AOL Time Warner to work for a start-up…